The News About Coconut Oil
Coconuts and Coconut Oil

The News About Coconut Oil

By Carolyn V. Hamilton

It used to be believed that coconut oil was a fat that contributed to heart disease. But new studies reveal that coconut oil is in fact a heart-healthy food with many benefits.

Coconut oil is the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people who live in tropical parts of the world. The oil is extracted from the kernels of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera).

These new studies show that coconut oil increases digestion to help absorb fat-soluble vitamins; improves insulin use in the body; positively benefits hormones that affect the thyroid and blood-sugar levels; increases metabolism so that you experience more energy and endurance; and can help your body resist bad viruses, bacteria, and funguses—even yeast and candida. It also has been show that the saturated fat in coconut oil—lauric acid—can increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood.

Even better: new research suggests that special fats, called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), in coconut oil can help manage weight. According to a 2009 study “women who consumed about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks not only did not gain more weight, but actually had lowered amounts of abdominal fat, a type of fat that is difficult to lose, and contributes to more heart problems.”

Coconut oil has a high saturated fat content and stability that makes it resistant to becoming rancid; it can last up to two years. But because of this high saturated fat content, health advisors caution against consuming high amounts. As with anything, moderation is the key. A couple of tablespoons a day in food such as smoothies can benefit your health in all these ways.

For applying topically on your skin, refined coconut oil is acceptable, but for ingesting into your body, an unrefined virgin coconut oil is recommended.

—Carolyn V. Hamilton

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